drama inherent in every man” – a statement that I totally agree with. Although the classical portrait may have a certain stigma attached to it, and may seem to many to be a rather boring category of art – once one begins to discover the biographical, socio-historical and cultural associations that a portrait is likely to have, the portrait can quickly go from being a humble representational picture to an extremely interesting and important historical document that can reveal fascinating historical, cultural and social information. Uncovering the often hidden delights of a portrait is usually a time consuming project but is also an extremely rewarding and fascinating journey which more people are beginning to see the benefits of. Uncovering the secrets of a portrait can not only be an exciting and educational experience, it can also be financially rewarding in cases where the information uncovered adds historical, cultural or provenencial value to the portrait in question.
Portraits have featured heavily in many of the most successful art auctions that have taken place over the last few months. Asa an example of what I am talking about, check out the top results (from mutualart.com) of the July 14th Deweatt-Neate Old Masters and 19th Century Pictures auction.
Top lots sold above high estimate
Old Masters & 19th Century Pictures
Jul 14, 2010 10:00 AM
Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, The flower girl
The flower girl
By Bartolomé Esteban Murillo
Green Arrow380% above estimate
Angelica Kauffmann, Immortality: A Nymph Presiding in the Temple of Immortality
Immortality: A Nymph Presiding in the Temple…
By Angelica Kauffmann
Green Arrow340% above estimate
British School, 18th Century, Portrait of a lady Half length seated
Portrait of a lady Half length seated
By British School, 18th Century
Green Arrow209% above estimate
Titian, Head study of a man (fragment)
Head study of a man (fragment)
Green Arrow160% above estimate
Stay tuned for part 2 for a detailed explanation of the reasoning behind my portraits as art market currency theory.
**Nicholas Forrest is an art market analyst, art critic and journalist based in Sydney, Australia. He is the founder of http://www.artmarketblog.com, writes the art column for the magazine Antiques and Collectibles for Pleasure and Profit and contributes to many other publications